Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face
After extensive research, I’ve determined that the purpose of a mask is to hide the wearer’s identity. No really, it’s true! And when it’s used in video games, the mask will usually work as a plot device to hide who a character truly is for a later, surprising reveal.
However, my studies have also found that some characters don’t really seem to get the point of masks. If one is worn too often by the same person, its effect naturally wears off, since it essentially becomes their new face. Not the best call, if you want to remain discreet. Yet these characters go for it anyway, to the point that many players actually recognize them better with their masks ON. Here we have eight beloved characters whose faces you don’t actually recognize, because their mask game is just too strong. Read on, and hopefully the pictures don’t get too confusing.
SPOILERS AHEAD for the following games:
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Mass Effect 3
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Metal Gear Solid
Midna (Twilight Princess)
You’d think that one disguise would be enough for Midna, since her impish form is the result of a curse that makes her look a lot shorter and more pot-bellied than she rightly should. But apparently she wanted to add an extra layer of mystique, or she couldn’t stand to be seen looking like something you win from a claw crane. She wears the magical mask Fused Shadow to compensate, to the point that it becomes one of her defining physical features. Without it, it’s easy to mistake her for some random ankle-biter, or a stuffed carnival prize.
We find out what’s behind the mask during a brief flashback which shows Midna’s structural downgrade, and the most evil smile you’ve ever seen in a Nintendo game.
Tali (Mass Effect)
It’s hard out there for girl with no immune system. Locked into a suit designed to keep her safe from filthy doorknobs and people who cough into their hands (Miranda looks like the type), Tali’s face is obscured for virtually all of Mass Effect. All we get to see of her is a purple space helmet with white dots in the middle for eyes. She does take her mask off on a couple of occasions, but is also conveniently turned slightly to the left, so Shepard gets a full view while leaving the fans wanting. Greedy, greedy Shepard.
We find out what’s behind the mask when Tali leaves a picture of herself on Shepard’s nightstand if he chooses to romance her. Though this reveal is ten times more amazing.
Handsome Jack (Borderlands)
Handsome Jack’s a bit of an odd guy. Just thought I’d let you know. But he’s also an odd entry on this list, because the mask he’s wearing is actually a model of his own face, from back when he still liked the way it looked. This not-mask of his is so well-known that most people don’t notice he’s not wearing it in previews for Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel. No clips, no weird skin tone changes, just his regular face. Like I said, odd guy.
We find out what’s behind the mask if Lilith kills him, at which point his mask falls off and it turns out him wearing it was a very good call.
Skull Kid (Majora’s Mask)
Oh, this little jerkface. The trickster of Termina in Majora’s Mask, he could spend his days moving people’s keys around and be acceptably annoying. But instead he decides to steal a mask of infinite evil power, fall under its influence, and act as its host as it tries to kill everyone with the moon. Rude. He becomes so attached to Majora’s Mask–this is an accurate use of “literally” here–that he and it seem to be one being, so it’s disconcerting when he tosses the thing. I mean, it was forcing him to commit acts of ultimate evil, but still
We find out what’s behind the mask at the end of the game when the mask’s hold on him is broken. Apparently he’s the lovechild of a duck and a coconut.
Shy Guy (Mario)
It’s debatable how shy these guys actually are when they’re beating Mario down with sombreros, but it’s clear they don’t like showing their faces much. Since their first Mario-series appearance in Super Mario Bros. 2, not a single one has set a blobish foot on screen without a mask. With about a thousand of these little dudes running around serving Mario’s worst enemies, you’d think there’d be one screw-up in the bunch who’d lose the thing and go barefaced. But that only happens once, in a cutscene in Mario Tennis. When the dude’s back is turned. Laaaaame.
We find out what’s behind the mask never, but Luigi finds out, and he looks terrified, so maybe it’s for the best. My money’s on the dude’s face being an indescribable void.
Corvo Attano (Dishonored)
Everyone’s had one of those days. Your morning commute’s a disaster, your co-worker decides to be a jerk, an assassin kills your boss and blames you for it. It’s enough to drive you nuts, which is apparently what happened to Corvo, or else it’s hard to figure out why he thought a terrifying metal skull mask would be at all inconspicuous. The mask basically becomes his face, to the point that almost all the game’s promotional material features it. In his world, it is the face of Death. Also a cool thing to wear to dinner parties.
We find out what’s behind the mask on about a thousand wanted posters, which is only slightly more conspicuous the mask itself.
Speaking of the face of Death… well, this is it. Aggrieved by the necessary murder of his entire race, Death pulls the broodiest, most badass move he can think of: he dons his famous executioner’s mask before the final battle and wears it from then on. A mouthless, thin-faced veil of pure bone, it’s a permanent fixture on his face and totally completes his Scandinavian death-metal look. If he ever removes it over the course of the series, it’s never shown. Not until the end, anyway, where he takes it off right in time for the camera to change and not show what he looks like.
We find out what’s behind the mask never. Because badass.
Psycho Mantis (Metal Gear Solid)
You don’t forget your first massive troll, especially when he’s sporting a creepy gasmask in the midst of your mindscrew. Psycho Mantis is a tinhat without the tin, using his trademark headgear to keep other people’s thoughts from sneaking into his head. And hey, when you can read minds on the fly, some padding makes sense–how many strangers’ sex lives do you want to be privy to today? It’s also useful for covering up his apparently extensive facial scars, but really, it’s mostly the mind thing.
We find out what’s behind the mask when he’s on death’s door and Snake takes his mask off, only to find that he DOESN’T HAVE A FACE AT ALL!!! Oh, wait
I wear a mask to create what I am
Chances are these characters would be a lot more discreet running around with their masks off, but it seems they’re just too attached to give them up. Which of these characters would you like to see lose the mask more? Which do you wish never did? Do you also shriek to the sky in rage at Tali’s canon design? Tell us in the comments below.